For those who have a PC connected to their flat-screen TV as the main entertainment hub in their home will appreciate the frustration that is often caused by having a computer mouse in a living room environment.
There is never a good place to use a mouse — thighs and couch cushions don’t cut it — and if you place a mousepad on your coffee table, it’s used as a coaster for coffee cups more often than anything else.
Microsoft has been making its own hardware for more than 20 years and its keyboards have always been a favourite among users. Now the company has created a hybrid device with a trackpad added to a specially modified keyboard — ideal for living room use. The Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard also works on some smart TVs and gaming consoles.
The keyboard connects to a PC or console via a small USB wireless transceiver (not Bluetooth) and is powered by two AAA batteries. For portability, the USB transceiver can be stored neatly in the battery compartment.
Design wise, the Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard is simple. Designed to be held or placed on a lap, the keyboard offers a number of shortcut keys to compensate for the lack of a two-button mouse.
There is a left-click button on the left side of the keyboard that can be pressed in conjunction with a tap on the trackpad to mimic that function. There are also volume controls, a home button and a Windows Explorer launch button. These are all customisable and can be used to launch any app of function in Windows.
The keyboard itself is roughly the same size as the popular but more expensive Microsoft Wedge mobile keyboard, but it is not quite as comfortable to use on a table. Indeed, this all-in-one device is not intended to replace a desktop keyboard — it simply works much better in a lounge setting.
Navigating the Windows user interface, or even those used by services like Netflix, is much easier with this keyboard in hand. As you hold it, your right thumb feels comfortable over the touchpad, which itself feels responsive. There is a slight indent in the middle bottom section of the trackpad, which means the trackpad itself also has left- and right-click functionality. To simply select, you can tap the trackpad. The trackpad also supports multi-touch gestures such as swipe, drag and zoom.
The Microsoft All-in-One Media Keyboard feels hardy enough to be passed around the room, but is by no means a rugged device. Regardless, it is a must-have tool for anyone frustrated with using a mouse to control their TV.
There are similar keyboards available from other manufacturers, including Logitech, but the All-in-One Media Keyboard wins on price alone. At around R599, this hybrid keyboard offers great value for money. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media
- Review keyboard provided by Mustek